Just before Christmas, Ocean Lifeguard
Peter Patterson, Jr. sent this email from law school
to his Saltaire Ocean Rescue (SOR) colleagues.

He has agreed to share it with the larger Saltaire community




FROM:        Peter Patterson

SENT:        Friday, December 19, 2003 12:44 PM

TO:          SOR Members

SUBJECT:     "Usin' the facilities"



Hi everyone,

So I'm sitting here in snowy Charlottesville, VA, hunkered down in my apartment on a cold winter's day. I don't have much food in the house, my car is on the fritz and I've got a killer hunger. It's windy, blowy and all-around terrible outside. To top it all off, I'm working on a killer 25 pager about 'internet SPAM' that's due at 5:00 p.m., and I'm generally hating life.

Right about when I'm about ready to give up, I read this sentence in one of the legal cases in front of me:

"As a general matter, the public possesses a privilege to reasonably use the facilities of a public utility," (Restatement(Second) of Torts § 259...)

Just then, I break into a wide smile.

I think of the summer. I think of Nicole, coming down off the stand with her sleek shades on, moving in that relaxed and confident way that only Nicole can. She's supremely satisfied after a solid 1.5 hour sit and an even more solid Graylin Peg and chocolate milk. She pokes her head under the tarp, gives to her fellow SOR crewmembers that nod of acknowledgement that only a beach lifeguard knows, and states with authority:

"I'm goin' to use the facilities."

It is in this moment of supreme revelation, sitting here at my desk, that I realize just how damn good we have it:

A place where all is warm and balmy, where the temperate sand and unruffled water vie for your affection.

A place where everyone within sight knows your name.

A place where the worst trouble is having a splinter, or getting sand in places where it don’t belong.

A place where "crowded" means not having the whole beach to yourself, and a run to the store can literally be a form of exercise.

And finally, I realize while sitting here in my wintry solitude, a place where law and leisure intersect, where man, woman and child are not only equally permitted but NAY! equally encouraged to "use the facilities".

These thoughts, while meager and hurried, are my Christmas gift to you all.

SOR forever,

"Private Pete"